Outside Looking In


Down, down, down.

We all watched something two nights ago that we shouldn’t have. They called it a debate. I’ve heard also sorts of negative descriptions. They all fit. I can think of some worse ones, but they aren’t fit to print. I read that the folks who host the debates are going to change them. I read that they may put a mute button on the microphones of each speaker. Something better happen. I won’t watch another debate if one guy won’t even come close to playing by the rules.

I suppose the world saw in 90 minutes what we’ve lived with for the past 47 months. We are tired. We are scared. We are angry. Now the rest of the world pities us. I cannot remember a time in my life when one man has ruined just about every one of my days. If it isn’t him, it’s this damn pandemic which could have been in control except for that very same man. The liar in chief. The denier in chief. The loser in chief.

There. I’ve said it. I’ve had my rant.

I hate to leave like this so…

I think my photo world is starting to turn a little. I’ve licensed a lot of work out of my archives. I asked one art director how he found me and why he wasn’t looking at the inexpensive photo portals. He found me by Googling for NOLA photographers. He didn’t want to use portals because the pictures were either not so great or that they were derivative. Ha! What did I say a few says ago?

Derivative. Derivative. Derivative.

This has gotten me thinking. Maybe it’s time to build my archives in a very public place. Make them very searchable and let people license them for normal uses without me even knowing. And, for more special projects they could talk to me directly.

Maybe there is a way for photography to become real again. Don’t get me wrong. I like my other career. But, this is what I was built to do.

Pictures at an exhibition. The all seeing dog and I were out walking. We arrived at our bench and I noticed that leaves started falling and sticking to odd places like our park bench. So, I made this picture. It’s about as raw as it could be. I wanted to test a picture loading system forgetting that I hadn’t done any finishing work on the image.

Oops.

That’ll happen in this fast paced world.

Stay safe. Stay might. Wear your mask.

Reminder


Changes. I have a friend — a photographer — who seems to think that my work is as good as some of the masters. I completely disagree. I replied to his email about getting me print sales via a couple of well know — in the photography world — websites by saying I’m just one of 274, 987 photographers in the world.

I see a lot of pictures. Good, bad and derivitive. The derivative pictures are mostly on Instagram and its big brother, Facebook. You know, one person makes an interesting picture and 749 other photographers copy the original.

How boring.

But, this isn’t a rant about that. It’s a rant about me. I am truly bored with my own new work. I’m derivative. Of myself. I make a new picture and I think, “oh wow. this is cool.” When I return home, I find that I’ve already made the picture last year, the year before, and the year before that.

Arrrgh.

Falling to earth.

Oh goody. The picture. I saw it, I photographed it. I did very little in post production. Nature did most of the work. It may also be nature’s way of tell ing me something’s wrong.

What is the point of making this picture again in a month, or in a year?

Some people have told me that I’m wrong. Nature changes daily. One guy made that point by showing me a series of sunsets. Boy oh boy, he was right, they were different. But, they were so much alike that I couldn’t tell them from the other 20 million sunset pictures scattered all over the internet.

Don’t believe me?

Go to Google images and search for sunsets. Start on Saturday. By the end of the next week you’ll be done looking at each one.

Oh well.

Maybe I’ll find a subject that interests me enough to explore it for a good long while.

Stay safe. Stay well. Wear your masks.

The Blue Distance


The thing that I’m looking for.

It’s not really a thing. It’s a person. Me.

I’ve written briefly about my paternal family. I knew the family mythology. I knew what we were told. Every bit of it was wrong or a lie. A while back I took Ancestry.com’s DNA test. I reckon not much is private now and they had the biggest database, so off I went.

I few things were confirmed. Sorta.

One day about a year ago I received an email from a guy why might be related to me. We emailed back and forth for a while. I suppose we both got tired of it. Ancestry.com sent me an email telling me that they found more new data.

I decided to subscribe for six months so I could try to dig into the records. What I found was stunning.

We were told that our grandfather jumped ship and deserted from the Royal Russian Navy after being told to fire on their own people during the first Russian Revolution in 1905. That sounded little too much like The Potemkin Affair, a movie released in 1925.

I discounted it.

I thought that he might have left the country, but those circumstances were a little to close. We were told that he made his way to Hamburg, Germany and sailed on a tramp steamer to Ellis Island where he entered the United States.

Nope.

Somehow he made his way to London where he lived for a little while. He probably got together enough money to buy a ticket on a ship called the Haverford. He left from Liverpool and arrived in Philadelphia in 1910. He met my grandmother about the same time. I never knew him. He died in 1948 at the age of 60 or 61.

Here’s where it gets really tricky.

I thought my dad was an only child. He wasn’t. He had a older sister who was born in 1915 called Ruth Shirley Olga Laskowitz. She lived with her family as documented on the 1920 census. She drops off in 1930. She meets a man called James Albert Miller, with whom she has six children — my cousins.

Again, it gets tricky.

My cousins were born in 1939, 1943 and 1949. I’mm not sure when the other three were born. She and Mr. Miller did not get married until 1962. My cousins are all Millers. Riddle me all of that, Batman.

Mr. Miller — my uncle — died in 1974 on Long Island. Ruth Shirley Olga moved to California where she lived in Cypress, just across the Los Angeles County border in Orange County. We lived about five minute into LA County. We were maybe ten minutes apart. She died in 1990. I never knew her, or heard of her until a little while ago.

Of the Miller family all that is left for me are very distant cousins who call my late aunt, great-great grandmother. They never knew her.

I have no idea why everything was so secret. There is no one I can talk to because they are lost to the fog of time. I wish, when I was younger and my parents were alive, that I had questioned them. But, by then our relationship wasn’t great.

I know where my grandfather came from. I have a pretty good idea where my grandmother came from. I’m not concerned about my maternal grandfather and mother. Their history is quite clear as my aunts and cousins have done quite a lot of research.

I had this big plan to travel to Belarus and a region in Poland that used to be called Galicia. I was going to do it after my big work was finished this year. You know what they say. If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans. Along came the pandemic.

That’s why I’m sad. I’m lost. I’m confused. I’ve lost my mojo. I’ve lost my hope. I feel like I don’t know who I am.

The Picture.

I needed this picture. It’s light. It’s happy. The clouds made me smile when I saw them. We had a huge storm yesterday. A cold and warm front clashed. The booms of thunder made me cringe. By mid-afternoon the storm blew out. When the all seeing dog and I took a walk, the clouds in the picture are what we saw.

I didn’t take very long to make the pictures. I took even less time in post production. Mother Nature did her thing.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy every hour.

A Little Too Much


Autumn light.

I changed my mind.

I wrote a fairly long post about me. I think I went a lot further than I intended. So, here I am writing something entirely different. It’s about teaching and letting go.

Many of my posts are purely about photography. My intent is to teach even if I don’t expressly say that. Sometimes, I teach by example. Sometimes, I tell you how I did something. Sometimes, I talk about theory and philosophy.

Hopefully, something strikes your fancy and you try it. Maybe you’ll ask more about how, why and what I did. Sometimes, I see a picture that looks just about like something I posted or talked about. I just sort of smile.

All of that is humbling.

I learned a lesson yesterday from some folks on Facebook. I was reading comments on a group page. If someone disagreed with another a big fight ensued. They attacked each other personally. It made me sad. The people in this group should be pulling in the same direction. Of course, disagreements happen, but throwing the kitchen sink at another person never helps.

Whenever you offer advice to another person, keep in mind that it is their life. They can choose to follow your advice or not. In either case, give your thoughts freely and walk away. You’ve done your best. For you, that should be good enough.

The picture. This is what happens when a cool front chases slightly warmer air. First, there is rain. Then comes wind. More rain. Then beautiful blue skies appear with brilliant white puffy clouds cruising through. My approach is to shoot directly into all that brightness and let the foreground fall into silhouette, making a dramatic graphic shape.

You may be inspired by the thought of making a fall picture. You may go about it in a different way. How cool is that? Your brain switched on and then clicked again. You made your picture.

 

It Happens That Way


Fall…

It’s funny how it happens.

One day is stormy and humid. The next day the weather is cool and dry. Fall arrived. Finally.

The very weather pattern that pushed Hurricane Michael away from New Orleans brought cool air to the region. The windows in the house are open for the first time since late April. Natural cool air replaced refrigerated¬†air. For sure, the temperatures will warm up a little next week, but the humidity will stay low. That’s a big deal around these parts.

So.

Happy Fall to us. Yippee.

The picture. There is a little bridge located on one of our walking routes. I saw the leaf on the hand rail and framed the picture as you see it. All those little glowing things are other leaves below laying on the ground. I actually tuned this picture down a little. Real world color looked enhanced.

I bought a new smart phone. It’s a Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It is the latest and greatest. It cost about half of Apple’s latest and greatest. I have a hard time paying about $1,200 for a phone, even though it is fairly powerful computer. That’s what an Apple phone would cost.

According to the tech guys I talked with, my new phone is the best in the world. They keep telling me that I can do a lot more with it than I could with my now retired i-Phone 6. I’m sure I can. I’m also pretty sure that it is too much for me. I’m fairly technology challenged.

But.

The camera. The two cameras. Wow! The front camera, the one I use most, is 12 mega pixels. When I first started working in the digital world, we had 3 or 4 megapixel dslrs. Six mega pixels was a big deal. That went on for few years. Today, I work with 24.6 mirrorless cameras. Obviously 12 mega pixels is half of that, but far more than cameras I once used professionally.

I’m excited to see the quality of the images I produce.